When did marriages become so about the "get"...about the production and showing off...and most importantly, not about displaying the seriousness of how two people are changing their lives and investing their future in one another.
Okay, so maybe I'm 34 and slightly cynical about many societal "expectations" that at this point I simply don't agree with. But I really feel like I have to defend myself by saying that most often I do agree with the sentiment, just not how it is celebrated. For example: Valentine's Day. I detest the idea of Valentine's Day and all of the materialistic-showcasing-of-love-bull-shit that is expected to coincide. I am of the belief that love should not be dictated by a single holiday or a specific day for that matter. Giving/receiving little notes and small gifts unexpectedly feels immeasurably sweeter than being like, "Oh shit, I have to find something to get my boyfriend because its Valentine's Day." Where is the fun in that? I just think that so often people are caught up in the expectations pushed upon us that the overall importance and reality of a situation is lost.
There is a show on TLC [my favorite escape from the heat] called Four Weddings. Basically, it is a competition between four brides. They each attend and then rate the other three weddings. The winning bride (and groom of course) are awarded a honeymoon. I've only watched a few episodes of the show because usually the girls are annoying and catty when rating the other weddings. But one particular episode really caught my attention. Three of the girls spent $70,000, and the other spent $30,000. Throughout the entire episode, the wedding that cost 30,000 was described as the budget-friendly celebration. What?! This is completely unfathomable to me. You mean to tell me that spending $70,000 is the norm and $30,000 is economical? This is my problem. People are delusional.
Again, this is me. I don't see the point in spending more for a wedding (one day) than I spent for both my Bachelor's and Master's combined. I see this as extreme extravagance, not necessity, and I'd rather (if I had that kind of money) see it go towards something more constructive, like a house, that I could physically live in. But not everyone is in my position financially, and perhaps spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding doesn't even affect them. And that's just fine because the reality is that I don't care how others choose to spend their money.
What I do care about, and this is my whole reason for writing today, is the idea that a couple's "special day" must equal everyone else going out of their way financially and geographically to help make the "special day" be what the couple envisions. So, I've put together some thoughts on what I think are essential elements that should be considered by every couple as they plan their "special day"...and my hope is that I will still have some friends afterward.
-Traditionally, this event originated as a means to ensure that the actual wedding ceremony could take place. It was intended to assist a woman, way back, when her family couldn't or wouldn't foot the bill. Friends or other family members stepped in to help the potential bride. In summary, if you can afford your wedding (and I'm not talking some $70,000) then this event is superfluous, unnecessary. Plus, lets seriously take into consideration how this shower looks today. The event exists solely for the bride to receive gifts--this is in addition to the gifts potentially received at engagement parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and the wedding itself. And realistically, who is invited--the same damn people that are invited to the wedding, bachelor/bachelorette party, the engagement party etc...I think you understand what I'm saying, because the idea that a single guest is more or less expected to gift at four separate events for the same occasion is completely ridiculous.
-Traditionally, the parties began as an opportunity designated for the bride and groom to spend some time with their friends before the wedding. I love this idea because the reality is that relationships do often change after marriage, and a last blowout together could be great. But these parties have evolved into the "last night of freedom as a single person" where the drive is to get so obliterated that you don't even remember what happened without your DD and pictures explaining. First of all, no. Your "last night" of singledom occurred when you decided to exclusively date your significant other.
And, I don't understand the need to include a strip club as the only acceptable location for the parties to take place. I am by no means a prude, but when lap dances and other extras are the expected norm before a bride and groom can move into the next stage of their relationship, I have to think that something is already missing.
Also, these parties are generally hosted by friends. This often means that food, drinks, lodging, transportation, and the "entertainment", not to mention the gag/lingerie type gifts that are not cheap, all fall onto their backs.
-My two biggest pet peeves about weddings are assigned seating and a pay to play bar. I understand that there may be a couple tables designated for close relatives, but when you have to place people in undesirable locations (like where they can't see anything) it seems that maybe I shouldn't have been invited at all if that is where I am placed. And with the exception of receptions that exclude alcohol for religious purposes, all weddings should have an open bar. If you expect your friends, co-workers and family to sit through 2-4 hours of your "special day", my suggestion is that drinks will make everyone else enjoy it as much as you. Especially when pictures, or ceremonies run late.
Wedding Party Hupplah
-The wedding party is made up of, in theory, the close friends and family of the bride and groom and therefore should not be treated as someone's personal little bitch. Keep in mind they are the most special people in your wedding, and you chose them.
1) If you want the bridal party wearing a specific dress and tux, it should be provided. I would love to meet the person who first came up with the idea that bridesmaids and groomsmen had to cover the costs for what they were specifically being told to wear and repeatedly poke them in the armpit. I mean really, I know its par for the course now, but imagine being that first bridesmaid who was asked to be in her friends' wedding when the bride added, "Oh, and you're going to have to buy the dress, and it will be a couple hundred dollars, (and chances are you won't ever, ever, ever find any occasion to wear it again)." This makes absolutely no sense to me. If your wedding costs can't bear the weight of your wedding parties' attire then I suggest you rethink where your money is going.
2) Let's keep in mind that rarely does an entire wedding party reside in the same place these days. If the bride and groom does not have the forethought to cover such a situation, the wedding party members are left to pay for transportation, lodging, and any other miscellanea as they are obviously displaced for the set # of days that the wedding events take place. Spending over $1,500 because you were "asked" to be a bridesmaid or a groomsmen is out of control. Further expecting these guests to then provide a gift as well, is beyond ridiculous. I'd say it is selfish.
-The last element to respectful wedding preparation is the information you provide to your guests. My friend Mindy married Rob about two years ago. They live in Kansas City and so it was basically a destination wedding for me. Mindy provided bullet-ed lists covering every aspect of the weekend. It was the best. She took into consideration spouses that weren't involved in the wedding...she explained where and when we needed to be somewhere, when it was just for girls, just for boys, just for family, and just for the wedding party. The wedding party had transportation provided for the entire ceremony as the venue changed. And up until the actual weekend, I was constantly notified with changes. Now maybe that's why I love Mindy, because she organizes things just like me. But the truth is I would attend her wedding over and over again if she asked, because I think she and Rob took their guests into consideration. It doesn't mean their wedding wasn't what they wanted or they catered to other people. It just means, as it appeared to me, that being surrounded by friends and family was equally important. When I couldn't feasibly attend her bachelorette party, not only was she understanding, she was apologetic. She specifically asked those of us traveling from out of state not to bring gifts to the wedding, because she understood what we invested just getting there. [We did chip in and get an awesome margarita maker though.]
I guess my whole point is that I personally can't relate when people want to spend a shit-ton on their wedding, because I've never had that kind of money to throw around, but obviously it is their choice. What I have a real difficult time understanding is when a couple thinks their "special day" is worth ignoring the impact on others. And while some might say I'm bitter, I have to say maybe, a little...but even more so, I'm extremely realistic.